Speaker John Bercow backs holding civil partnerships in parliament
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has said he feels “very strongly” about allowing civil partnerships for gay couples to take place in parliament.
Earlier this month, the Speaker’s Committee began looking at the possibility of allowing civil partnerships to be held in parliament in the same way that marriages for straight couples are. MPs, peers and their children are allowed to use parliament buildings for their ceremonies.
Speaking to ePolitix.com at the Stonewall Awards last Thursday, Bercow said: “So far as civil partnerships are concerned, I feel very strongly that this is a matter of equity and justice.
“It is possible for members of parliament and senior officers of the House to get married in the House of Commons. They do so in the crypt, the chapel of St Mary Undercroft.
“I see no reason why we should not be able to make comparable arrangements for civil partnerships or indeed civil marriages.”
Bercow added that he hoped the change could be made as quickly as possible.
The Church of England does not recognise civil partnerships as marriages, so they cannot be held in the Chapel of St Mary in parliament. However, they can be held in other areas, such as the chapel in Westminster Hall.
Bercow is said to be currently trying to obtain a licence for civil partnerships to be performed on parliament’s grounds.
The change may take some time, as obtaining a civil partnership licence for parliament’s grounds may mean that members of the public would also gain the right to have their ceremonies there.
An Act of Parliament may be necessary for civil partnerships to be celebrated there.
One gay MP, foreign minister Chris Bryant, has already expressed his wish to hold his civil partnership in Westminster. He announced his engagement to partner Jared Cranney this month.